Robservations on the media beat:
Now that Jennifer Lyons has been named president and general manager of WBBM-Channel 2, look for the CBS-owned station to green-light plans to launch a 4 p.m. Monday-through-Friday newscast. The widely admired broadcast news executive who led WGN-Channel 9 to new heights and launched NewsNation in record time inherits a perennial also-ran in the ratings that appears poised for brighter days with Lyons and news director Jeff Harris. Newsroom veterans hailed her appointment Thursday as a huge morale boost — and a potential game-changer for the market. The good news came just 48 hours after CBS 2 won the coveted national Edward R. Murrow Award for Overall Excellence. “We’re fired up to have a true news lion with heart lead us @cbschicago. Welcome aboard, @JenLyonsTV,” tweeted CBS 2 news anchor Brad Edwards. The last time a former news director ascended to the front office at CBS 2 was 2008. Anyone remember Bruno Cohen?
Rick Telander, senior sports columnist at the Sun-Times, has been cleared of all charges in connection with a traffic stop July 25 in north suburban Wilmette. After viewing a police video of the incident and hearing testimony of witnesses, a Cook County Circuit Court judge Wednesday ordered the case dismissed and Telander’s license returned with no fine or penalty. The order cited “failure to have reasonable grounds to believe defendant was intoxicated.” Telander, 72, had been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, disregarding a traffic control device, speeding, improper lane usage and operating an uninsured motor vehicle. He did not respond to a request for comment.
Without fanfare Colin McMahon steps down today as editor-in-chief of the Chicago Tribune and chief content officer of Tribune Publishing. His departure marks the end of a remarkable run for the Cleveland native and graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University who joined the Tribune as a copy editor in 1987. McMahon, 58, declined to comment on his future plans. Gerry Kern, the Tribune’s top editor from 2008 to 2016, praised McMahon in a Facebook post Thursday as “an extraordinary journalist and deft leader whose vision helped the Tribune make the turn as a digital news organization. . . . He ascended to the top newsroom job in early 2020, just as the pandemic was shutting down the world. I can only imagine the challenges of running the Midwest’s leading news operation under such circumstances.” Succeeding McMahon as the Tribune’s 24th editor-in-chief (and its fourth in five years) is Mitch Pugh, just in from the Charleston Post and Courier in South Carolina.
Hugo Balta, former news director of Window to the World Communications WTTW-Channel 11, has been named associate editor of The Chicago Reporter. Since February Balta has been a contributing writer to the nonprofit news organization focusing on race and poverty. In his new role Balta will direct day-to-day news coverage and major investigative pieces. “I’m grateful to formally join @ChicagoReporter and contribute to its storied commitment to reporting on race, poverty and social justice,” he tweeted. Balta, a native of Paterson, New Jersey, and a graduate of Seton Hall University and Columbia Journalism School, continues as owner and publisher of Latino News Network.
Ramona Meadors, a producer at NBC affiliate WXIA in Atlanta, has joined ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 as producer of its 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. news block on Saturday and Sunday, starting next week. A Chicago native and graduate of Elmhurst College and Columbia College, she previously worked at WNDU, the NBC affiliate in South Bend, Indiana. “Ramona is a smart, dedicated news producer with a creative spirit evidenced in her work,” Jennifer Graves, vice president of news at ABC 7, said in a statement. “She knows and understands Chicago, and we are thrilled she’s joining us and coming back to the place she grew up.”
Two noteworthy specials this weekend hosted by Dave Plier on Nexstar Media news/talk WGN 720-AM: At 7 p.m. Friday he’ll host “The Far Out 70’s,” featuring conversations with Christopher Knight of “The Brady Bunch,” Henry Winkler of “Happy Days,” Jimmie Walker of “Good Times,” Suzanne Somers of “Three’s Company,” Alan Alda of “M*A*S*H,” Rob Reiner of “All in the Family” plus Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Gene Simmons of “Kiss.” At 1 p.m. Saturday Plier will rebroadcast interviews with Chicago radio legends Garry Meier, Tommy Edwards and WGN hosts Bob Sirott and John Records Landecker, who salute Dick Biondi, who turns 89 in September.
The cancellation of “Windy City Live” and its replacement by the syndicated “Tamron Hall” at 1 p.m. weekdays on ABC 7 isn’t the only big change coming to daytime. Starting August 30, CBS 2 will swap two shows on its weekday lineup, moving “Let’s Make a Deal” to 2 p.m. and “The Drew Barrymore Show” to 9 a.m. T Dog Media blogger Terence Henderson notes that it’s the first time since 1997 CBS 2 has aired a syndicated talk show at 9 a.m. and a network show at 2 p.m. “Barrymore” also will continue to air at 9 p.m. weeknights on Weigel Broadcasting WCIU-Channel 26.
Thursday’s comment of the day: Carol Marin: Really good move. Really good. Congratulations Jennifer [Lyons]. More to the point, congratulations CBS.
A programming note: I’ll be on vacation and off the grid next week. See you back here August 30.